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Getting Started with Personal Spinning® Threshold (PST)

Getting Started with Personal Spinning® Threshold (PST)

Posted by Spinning® on Jun 9th 2020

If you’re one of the lucky Spinning® Instructors with power bikes at your facility, you and your riders can see how much power (in watts) you’re putting out in real-time throughout the ride. That also means you get a true picture of the amount of calories burned in the workout. Those are big benefits. But did you know that to truly train with power there’s an important step that you might be missing? You and your riders need to know your Personal Spinning® Threshold.

What is PST?

Personal Spinning® Threshold (PST) is a marker that identifies an individual’s aerobic ceiling. It’s the highest level of exertion you can maintain before entering anaerobic metabolism. If you’re familiar with Functional Threshold Power (FTP), this is a similar concept. PST is the Spinning® program’s version of threshold, and the PST test is designed as a tool that anyone can use on a Spinner® bike. It’s a unique, safe, sub-maximal method that is easy to control and replicate.

What’s the Benefit of a PST Test?

A PST test empowers you to train within individualized zones. It’s not enough to know that you’re putting out 150 watts—you need to know what that number means for you. For some people 150 watts represents a moderate, aerobic effort. For others, it’s the high end of the anaerobic zone. Knowing your PST allows you to train smarter, because you’ll know when you’re riding in aerobic, threshold, or anaerobic zones. PST reflects the point where the exertion begins to produce the highest sustainable effort, challenging your strength, speed and stamina.

Follow these PST test instructions, find your SPINPower® Zones™, and start training with power! To really get educated on the science of training, SPINPower® Zones™, and power-based training rides check out the SPINPower® Certification, available online and in a live workshop format.

PST Test Instructions

Before a PST test, be sure you are in good health, injury-free, rested and hydrated.

The objective of the PST Test is to identify the average watts one can sustain in a 2-minute effort with a steady cadence at a Rating of Perceived Effort (RPE) between 7 and 8 on a scale of 1-10. To get there, you conduct a ramp test, starting at a very low workload and progressively increasing effort by adding resistance at ramped stages.

The Spinning® Connect™ App will guide you through the test with timed intervals, instructions and automatic calculations. Download it from the App Store or Google Play.

If you’re leading a class through the test without the Spinning® Connect™ App, you’ll need to use a stopwatch or the interval button on your bike computer to keep time for each 2-minute ramp.

1. Have the riders warm up at an easy pace, shifting through different resistance loads and incorporating a few 10-20 second hard efforts. Also include some transitions in and out of the saddle. When the test begins, riders will stay seated in the saddle.

2. At the end of the warm-up, cue the group to dial in light resistance and find a cadence between 60-110 RPM that they want to maintain throughout the entire test.

3. Get ready to use your stopwatch or interval function. You’ll coach your riders through a series of 2-minute ramps, each one a little harder with increased resistance. It’s important that they keep their cadence steady throughout the test.

Toward the end of each 2-minute ramp, give them a heads up that the next increase is coming so they can make a mental note of their average watts. When they turn up the resistance, they’ll aim for an increase of 5-30 watts.

Ramp 1: RPE= 1 (Easy) for 2 minutes. From this point forward, each time you start a new ramp, you will cue your riders to keep the cadence steady, but add a little resistance to increase average power by 5-30 watts to reach the next level on the RPE scale.

Ramp 2: RPE = 2-3 (Easy to Moderate)

Ramp 3: RPE = 3-4 (Moderate to Moderately Hard)

Ramp 4: RPE = 4-5 (Moderately Hard to Hard)

4. Coach your riders that in the next 2-3 ramps the goal is to reach Very Hard on the RPE scale, but not to go full-out. The goal is not to see how high you can get your watts. The goal is to identify the average watts you can sustain for a 2-minute, Very Hard effort while still maintaining a consistent cadence.

Ramp 5: RPE = 5-6 (Hard to Very Hard)

Ramp 6: RPE = 6-7 (Very Hard)

Ramp 7: RPE = 7-8 (Very Hard to Very, Very Hard)

Results: The PST value is the average watts for the final 2-minute effort in which the rider was able to maintain their cadence at a perceived effort of Very Hard to Very, Very Hard. (If you’re running this test in a group, some people may finish earlier than others.)

What Your PST Means

Your PST represents the amount of power (in watts) where you’re working at your aerobic ceiling. When you’re working at 65-85% of your PST you’re training in Zone 2: aerobic training. Zone 3 threshold training is 85 – 105% of your PST. Zone 4 anaerobic training is 105 – 120% of PST, and Zone 5 maximal efforts are above 120% PST.

Find Your SPINPower® Zones™

Once you know your PST, use the SPINPower® Zone Chart to identify your training zones. To do so, find your PST number in the yellow column labeled PST. That row in the chart shows the watts that correspond to each training zone.

For example, look at the picture below. If your PST is 120, your SPINPower® Zones would be:

Zone 1 - Active Recovery: up to 72 watts

Zone 2 - Aerobic Training: 72 -102 watts

Zone 3 - Threshold Training: 102 – 126 watts

Zone 4 - Anaerobic Training: 126 – 144 watts

Zone 5 - Peak Performance: above 144 watts

As fitness level and pedaling efficiency increase over time, repeated future tests will naturally occur at a higher, more consistent cadence, and increased wattage. Fitness conditioning and performance will show in future PST tests. An increase in PST can mean a change in SPINPower® Zones™ has occurred as well.